Sunday, September 07, 2008

Pg. 69: Jonathan Miles' "Dear American Airlines"

Now featured at the Page 69 Test: Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles.

About the book, from the publisher:
Sometimes the planes don’t fly on time.

Bennie Ford, a fifty-three-year-old failed poet turned translator, is traveling to his estranged daughter’s wedding when his flight is canceled. Stuck with thousands of fuming passengers in the purgatory of O’Hare airport, he watches the clock tick and realizes that he will miss the ceremony. Frustrated, irate, and helpless, Bennie does the only thing he can: he starts to write a letter. But what begins as a hilariously excoriating demand for a refund soon becomes a lament for a life gone awry, for years misspent, talent wasted, and happiness lost. A man both sinned against and sinning, Bennie writes in a voice that is a marvel of lacerating wit, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, underlined by a consistent groundnote of regret for the actions of a lifetime -- and made all the more urgent by the fading hope that if he can just make it to the wedding, he might have a chance to do something right. A margarita blend of outrage, wicked humor, vulnerability, intelligence, and regret, Dear American Airlines gives new meaning to the term “airport novel” and announces the emergence of major new talent in American fiction.
Among the acclaim for the novel:
Dear American Airlines is a flinty, funny, irreverent, and heartbreaking first novel. The writing reminded me of a brilliant, early-days Martin Amis novel -- except with redemption and hope. It’s not easy to write a book this good, but Jonathan Miles makes it seem effortless.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

[W]ildly entertaining...not just philosophically but emotionally rewarding.”
Richard Russo, New York Times Book Review

There are a few simple rules for writing an effective letter of complaint. Keep it simple and straightforward. Never apologize. Include a possum trapping scene. And always make it novel-length. Anyone can do this, but only Jonathan Miles can also make it boozy and profane, honest to the glorious wretched bone, and beautiful, just beautiful.”
—John Hodgman, author of The Areas of My Expertise

“[A] thoroughly amusing and ultimately poignant howl about life's injustices....”
Scott Morris, Wall Street Journal

Dear American Airlines is a fine novel, a rough and wild ride, at times so excoriating that you put it aside for a more pleasant experience like a trip to the dentist, and at other times so funny you laugh loudly--though the perfect fool of a hero has enough of Everyman to make your laughter a tad uncomfortable. I loved this novel, which is strong medicine indeed.”
—Jim Harrison, author of Returning to Earth

A pitch-perfect portrait of a poet translating the narrative of his life from man to monster, scribbling in an eternal airport departure lounge toward an epitaph that reveals itself to be an epiphany. Wise and layered, with a keen understanding of what makes people continue to live and love against the grain of circumstances—haunted sex, ridiculous drinking, crystalline regret, and unjustifiable passions—all the necessities for a great read.”
—Mark Richard, author of Fishboy and Charity

A powerful and hilarious fugue from whine to eloquent tragedy. It is an easy and happy read. Miles is a rare original who has pity and sympathy for almost everybody. Bravo.”
—Barry Hannah
Read an excerpt from the novel and learn more about the author and his work at the Dear American Airlines website.

Jonathan Miles is the cocktails columnist for the New York Times and a contributing editor and books columnist for Men’s Journal. His work has appeared, among other places, in GQ, the Oxford American, the New York Observer, and the New York Times Book Review.

The Page 69 Test: Dear American Airlines.

--Marshal Zeringue